Turns out the Bleat Banner was ill-considered. It's cold. Why, you could say it's a Banner Boner! In the old sense of the word which we are all glad is gone. Many words change. Consider how the phrase "the man with the bundle of sticks made a happy mistake." You could say that in a different fashion in 1946, and it would sound like a high-schooler on MySpace in 1997.

Interesting, BTW, how the 90s are now settling in as The Last Good Decade. A function of those who came of age reconning the era through the prism of wishful nostalgia, or a fair accounting? Is it understood on its own terms, or held up in contrast to the Awful Oughts, as they might call them some day?

Not every decade is monolithic, obviously. Some years crowd out the others. 1912 gets marquee billing, because of the Titanic! 1914, war! 1919  . . .  eh, who knows.

How about 1913? More to the point, what about the department store window displays of 1913?

It will be a website someday. I’m still working through a stack of PDFs from Merchants Record and Show Window, a trade publication. You may think it’s a tiresome, ancient subject, but no. It’s one of those ephemeral things that no one captured but the stores' private archives and the trade mags. This was how the world looked. How people expected it to look.

It was theater, set design for the streets. Modern eyes might be underwhelmed with some of the examples, like the one above.

I mean . . .

On the other end of the spectrum, this elaborate domestic scene:


The sets were built with BeaverBoard or other types of hard, fibrous paper products. Note the light: the magazines were full of illumination techniques and advice. The window designer had to be all things - set designer, fashion designer, lighting designer, PR man.

The magazine is full of ads for wax figures that can be properly posed; they’re described as “animated.” Nothing suggests they had mechanisms that made their arms move or their heads turn, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. That’s my point: if you were pitched back 100 years, would you be surprised to see motorized dummies in a department store window?

Perhaps not, but it wouldn’t be something you expected. That’s the thing: there would be so much we understood, but did not expect, because 94% of the details are gone.

Here’s one that shows how Madam would look from the backside if she was transported back to a classical garden.

I have a few from 1921.

Behold, the new fixture with a 1000 uses!



Finally, this is instructive. What comes to mind when you hear the idea of the “Flapper”?

Is it this?


More some day. It's interesting stuff. Magazines of any era are indispensible to understanding an era.

More so, perhaps, than fiction?

(Yeeeeessss, more so.)

The artist is listed as “Emonts ou Emonds, Pierre.” Text says: " A choisi le pseudonyme "P. Emonds" jusqu'en 1888. Avec son fils Charles, ils travaillent pour la Commission du Vieux Paris." Ah, I see! They worked for the Commission of Views of Paris.


So what’s the work? The Victory Fountain, also known as the Fontaine du Palmier for the fronds atop:

They commemorate the Egyptian campaign.

The only fountain from the Napoleonic era still standing, the internet sayhs.

Sad is the city without something like this.









Nine thousand souls. The story runs thus:

Grants began as a railroad camp in the 1880s, when three Canadian brothers – Angus A. Grant, John R. Grant, and Lewis A. Grant – were awarded a contract to build a section of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad through the region. The Grant brothers' camp was first called Grants Camp, then Grants Station, and finally Grants.


Perhaps the most memorable boom in the town's history occurred when Paddy Martinez, a Navajo shepherd, discovered uranium ore near Haystack Mesa, sparking a mining boom that lasted until the 1980s. The collapse of mining pulled the town into a depression, but the town has enjoyed a resurgence based on interest in tourism and the scenic beauty of the region.

Perhaps many are drawn to the ancient signage. That's what we'll explore today.

You have to appreciate it when the sign remains after the business is gone.


There’s no way these buildings can ever shake their origin.

I wonder if that’s a later imposition.

“Dammit man, there’s no time! We have to go now! Leave the 9s! Leave them!”

Even if there wasn’t the sign with 9s, you knew this was a gas station site because of the lights.

Gas, or car lot.

I’m wondering if the town passed an ordinance against automobiles, and that just killed everything gas related.

No, of course not. It's a well-maintained old station, might be used today. Or perhaps the owner simply has a sense of pride.

This is an old beaut, with the original stone.

Built during the boom, no doubt.

“I want someone to be able to look down as they enter, and see reassurance that this is, indeed, the right motel.”


Another piece of commercial architecture you could find across the nation. But if you grew up when this style was passe, you wouldn’t look at this and say “oh I know that, it used to be a . . . "

Do you know?


Cool old signage; confused facade.



Oddly enough, there are no strip malls of offices that turn into motels.


Dead diner with no life, and a small amount of Buckaroo Revival to tell you it was still going in the 70s.

But that was a long time ago.

I do believe I stopped in this town because the number of signs exceeded the number of businesses by a factor of 10. It’s as if they couldn’t bring themselves to take down all that cool signage.

Or it was intentional, and they wanted to keep the signs for tourist reasons.

Another gas-station light.

Pray tell: what was the brand? I’m thinking we might have a clue in Tuesday’s Product.

There’s nothing but sadness in a sight like this.

I’m glad it survived, though.

From space, its grave.


That'll do; see you around.




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